Sunday, July 31–Dublin city, Co Dublin

St Francis Xavier church; St Mary's Pro-Cathedral; lunch at Beshoff's fish & chips; National Leprechaun Museum; the dinner trad music show at the Merry Ploughboys

Jury's Inn Parnell Street



Today was my last full day in Dublin and in Ireland itself.

I took it easy again today. I had arranged to go to the dinner and show at the Merry Ploughboys tonight instead of last night because yesterday the shuttle driver couldn't make it over here due to the tram construction and needed to be at the shuttle pickup not much later than 6 PM tonight. You can only visit the Leprechaun Museum on a guided tour–more about that later–so this morning I booked a ticket on the 3 PM tour. That gave me my time constraints for the day.

I kind of took the morning off, looking at my travel plans and thinking about how I'm going to pack the stuff I've had out in my room here at the Jury's Inn Parnell Street the past week. I didn't do any packing yet because I'm using my computer right now to type up my notes for today as usual, and am also copying my pictures from the camera to my laptop and then backing them up as well before leaving Ireland.

I decided the only places I'd try and find today here in the area before heading over to the Leprechaun Museum would be some of the churches and see if any of them were the two remaining ones whose spires I can see from my hotel room window (I think Abbey Presbyterian, which I found earlier, is one of the three). The first church I went to was the very lovely St Francis Xavier but lit turned out that one doesn't have a steeple at all so it can't be one of the ones I can see from here. I of course got there during a service and quietly stood at the back taking pictures from there and then left.

I did find my way back to St Mary's Pro-Cathedral, which is also very lovely and once again–not surprisingly since today is Sunday–a service was going on when I got there, so once again I quietly stood at the back taking pictures from there and then left. I knew beforehand that the Pro-Cathedral isn't one of the three I can see from here, for two reasons–it's not at the right angle from the hotel for me to be able to see it, being more or less where the four or five o'clock positions are on a clock, and it also doesn't have a steeple.

By now it was after 1 PM and time for lunch and I had a decent meal at Beshoff's, a local fish & chip shop that was quite busy while I was there and has been run by three generations of the same family.

It was around 2 PM when I left there so I thought I'd head back to the hotel, which was on the way to the Leprechaun Museum, and sit on one of the comfy chairs in the lobby until it was time to walk on over to the museum. Apparently a large group had just arrived and was checking in and all the chairs in the lobby were occupied so I just came back up to my room for a few minutes.

OK, I liked the Leprechaun Museum. It's pretty small but is very well done, although it's more intended for kids and families instead of grown adults on their own. Basically your tour guide, or storyteller, takes you through five or six rooms and tells stories from Irish folk lore. It didn't hurt that our guide, Alice, was cute, attractive, intelligent, and rather adorable if overly energetic which I suppose the job entails. One of the rooms is called the Giant's Room and has three or four very large chairs which the couple of kids and several of the adults in the group climbed up on, which was actually rather entertaining.

It was between 4:00 and 4:30 when I left the Leprechaun Museum, and wanted to head on over to the pickup point for the Merry Ploughboys by not much after 5:40 (it's only a ten or fifteen minute walk from here but as usual I like to be early when I can) so I just came back to my room and sat in the comfy chair for a while, looking at my map of Fort William and the surrounding area–where I'm going tomorrow–and reading for a bit.

The Merry Ploughboy is the name of the pub itself, which is owned by the group called the Merry Ploughboys whom I had actually heard of before I came to Dublin this time because I've heard some of their music on the podcasts I listen to. It's located in a small suburb called Rathfarnham about thirty minutes from Dublin city center in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. The driver had to make three other stops after picking me up–I was first–so between going to the other pickup points and the drive out to the pub I saw several different parts of town and the area I hadn't seen before.

There has been a tavern or restaurant on the site for a couple of centuries, and it's fairly large. I only actually saw the upstairs hall where the dinner and show are held, and it's kind of like a well-kept barn with great rafters and beams and decorated with memorabilia the band's collected over the years. The band and its members are of course not that old. With various changes of personnel the group has been performing since 1988, and at least one current member was part of the original lineup. They purchased the pub as a group in 2008.

Like in the Abbey Tavern, most of the tables are set up perpendicular to the stage. I was on the end of a table at the front, kind of at a 45 degree angle with a pretty good view of the stage.

Dinner was pretty good. I had an excellent seafood chowder and the fish with asparagus and mashed potatoes. The apple pie–the only choice for dessert–was very good.

Back to the band. The roster consists of four guys who all do some introductions and talk to the audience and they all sing. There's one on mandolin, one on uilleann pipes and whistle and flute, one on guitar and one on upright string bass. They did a bunch of the standard Irish pub sing type of material but did a few songs I didn't recognize and some instrumental pieces as well. All of it was excellent.

Halfway through the evening the band takes a break and the stage is taken over by the Irish dancers, three women and two guys, who dance to recorded music and were all excellent as well. They did a variety of different styles of Irish dancing, some solo and some ensemble.

It's now about 12:30 and I got home about an hour ago. I copied my most recent pictures over from my camera to my laptop and am backing them up as well as I mentioned earlier.

I want to get to bed quite soon since I think I should be up not much later than 6 AM so I can make sure there's a cab to get me to the airport around 8 AM for my 10 AM flight so tonight it's going to be more of an extra long nap rather than a good night's sleep–maybe I can take a nap once I get to Fort William in mid-afternoon.

I've had a wonderful time here in Ireland since June 15 and a lovely time here in Dublin this past week as well. Normally I'd be depressed about having to leave somewhere with hills and mountains and tons of places I could probably live more happily than I currently do in South Florida, especially if I had to go back to work when I got home, but not only am I not going back to work I'm not even going home yet but instead I'm leaving Ireland on the next part of my grand adventure, to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, then Glasgow and the World Pipeband Championships, then Edinburgh and the Military Tattoo, then London and the BBC Proms, the Globe Theatre, and St Martin in the Fields, then Paris before I return home.

The only complaint I have about this very nice hotel is they have the same kind of desk chair I've used in other hotels, and this model almost always never stays as high as when you start out.

Goodnight, and more tomorrow from Scotland this time.

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